The Movie Star Who Doubled as a Groundbreaking Inventor

Hedy Lamarr was a world-renowned actress referred to as "the most beautiful woman in the world," but that was only the most public part of her story. A new documentary on her life, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, looks beyond the stardom to unveil her complicated life story, and especially her work in science and technology. While earning a living in Hollywood films, Lamarr studied all kinds of subjects, did her own experiments, and filed patents on her inventions.

Hedy’s most significant invention was one she worked on with the avant-garde composer George Antheil. The pair wanted to help the Allied cause during WWII, so they began designing a radio guidance system that allowed torpedos to avoid enemy detection. Ultimately it was rejected by the Navy and Hedy was told that she’d be more helpful as a fundraiser, using her celebrity status to sell war bonds and entertain troops.

But after raising millions of dollars doing exactly that, her patent was seized when she was deemed an alien due to her Austrian nationality. Twenty years later, with her name removed from the invention, her technology was put to use during the Cuban Missile Crisis. “Sons of bitches!” Mel Brooks howls when he learns of this in the film.

Those very same principles are now a core component of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and various military technology – an invention with an estimated market value of $30bn. To make matters worse, it’s been disputed that Hedy came up with the idea at all, with some believing she stole it from the Nazis and hid it in her shoe – an assertion Bombshell proves false.

Read more about the life and times of Hedy Lamarr and the movie Bombshell at Huck magazine. -via Digg


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